Forced blackouts expected due to energy crunch

200% increase in diesel fuel consumption, 108% rise in jet fuel oil use seen in 2011.

February 2, 2012 06:02
2 minute read.
Power station in southern city of Ashdod

Ashdod power plant 390. (photo credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters)


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Due to the lack of production reserves in the electricity sector, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said he expects there to be temporary power outages during peak energy usage hours in the remaining winter days.

Landau therefore recommended that the public avoid using gas-guzzling devices – such as dishwashers, washing machines, ovens, electric water boilers and vacuum cleaners – between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., and ensure that heaters are down to 22 degrees.

On Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., the country was expected to reach a peak power demand of 11,100 megawatts, which would be provided via the combined efforts of the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) as well as private production, the ministry said.

“Today [Wednesday, February 1], like last week, Israel’s electricity sector is at risk of forced electricity outages due to the difficult of supply versus great demand,” said Dr. Yehuda Niv, head of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources’ Electricity Authority.

“It is important that the public realizes that savings of 3 kilowatt-hours of household energy consumption constitutes savings of liters of diesel fuel.”

Last week, the ministry had reported that the year 2011 had seen a 200 percent increase in diesel fuel consumption and a 108% rise in jet fuel oil use for electricity generation, in part due to the decreased availability of natural gas – a trend that the ministry predicted would continue through 2012.

However, in a letter sent to Landau on Tuesday, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan rejected Landau’s request to allow the IEC to use additional polluting fuels at its own discretion, the Environmental Protection Ministry reported on Wednesday.

Erdan’s letter argues that the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources is not doing sufficient long-term planning in the electricity sector, particularly in regard to the environmental implications of electricity production. In requesting additional usage of such fuels, the ministry is not taking into account the economic effects of the resultant health problems that would likely occur due to increased air pollution.

Meanwhile, Erdan also rejected insinuations that the Environmental Protection Ministry was in part responsible for exacerbating the current natural gas shortage by encouraging its use over heavy fuels.

“I utterly reject the attempt to throw the current situation of the electricity market at the Environment Ministry, which has resulted from long years of oversights and mismanagement of electricity by the Electricity Administration in the [Energy and Water Resources] Ministry,” Erdan said.

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